What I tell myself when life is beating me down


Author: Alex Mathers

I’ll be honest with you. I’m 33 years old and still find life hard.

I still feel like a beginner.

I still feel mostly clueless.

I still get scared and dread things.

For the most part, things are hopeful. I’m productive, I’m exercising enough, feeling positive, and I am grateful for what I have.

I can experience moments of brilliance, where I feel like I’m on fire, bursting with ideas.

But there are times when I allow things to affect me too much, to push me back, to drain the life from my chest until it is hollow.

It’s like losing my footing in the big climb of life, my grip has slipped, and I’ve taken a tumble. I have to dig in and set off again, a little more bruised than before.

I know that there will always be things to be afraid of, and setbacks are inevitable. But I also know that they mustn’t cloud my mind to the point that I feel unable to do anything about it.

I’ve had falls that have taken a long time from which to recover.

But I’ve also been down and turned things around more quickly.

This is why I’m writing this for myself. To remind me how to stay up, when it can seem like things are geared to keep me down.

What have I done to keep my head above water in some moments — to be resilient — when in others I would have been pulled under?

These are the two concepts that have helped me the most:

1. In reality, there runs a pervasive current that is pushing against you.

It is testing you, and it is for your own good.

You must always be moving so that you do not get forced backward by this current.

If you walk, you will stand still. Stand still, and you will be forced backward. Inaction will grow new vines that tie you down.

Your best option — your required option — is to move forward with force — a fluid, calm boldness. Push through the resistance, and do something. Anything.

Life is movement. Everything moves. Everything is in a constant state of flux. You must align with such constant change, to align with reality.

If you don’t move, you are no longer real. And life will punish you for that. You will feel it.

The reason you feel stuck, blocked, depressed, is because you are not moving. Something frightened you. You were the rabbit in the headlights. Instead of acting quickly (survival), you were killed by inaction (death).

Every decision made to move assertively — even if it’s the ‘wrong’ move — is an act of rebirth.

Ever notice how when you act with resolve, rather than playing the victim, you are filled with renewed energy? Do this at every step.

Stay moving, whether you’re terrified or euphoric. Even when you sleep. Dreams grant us this freedom.

Keep your calendar filled. Exercise every day. Keep producing. Be prolific. Be assertive despite the awkwardness. Build a vast, outstanding portfolio. Don’t stop creating, and do it with a playful urgency, unattached to the outcome.

Never stop moving.

2. You need to make peace with the darkness.

You wish negative feelings didn’t exist. But here’s some news for you. They will always be there.

It’s down to you, however, how much they get amplified.

Discomfort will be ever-present. Good feelings cannot blossom without the existence of their opposite. There will always be pain and fear. There couldn’t be light without the dark.

So you must accept that darkness will be there. When you accept, you let go.

This is what people mean when they say you need to “stop giving a fuck.”

Accepting is not the same as rejecting. Too often you engage with the darkness thinking it will help.

You ruminate on your problems. You hold your breath. You take it all and yourself so seriously. You seek therapy. You regard your memories with importance and overcharged sentimentality. You inject dark into dark. And it never helps, because it makes it worse.

You need first to see that darkness is there, and resist resisting it.

The sooner you accept it, the sooner it will lose its significance, fizzle away, and be replaced with light.

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Here’s an example. This is how it usually works with you:

Ah, here comes that fear again. Oh no, what does it mean? Am I a weak or a bad person? Oh dear, this feels horrible, and it’s getting worse. It’s making me panic. I need to close up. I need to hide.

Instead, see these negative thoughts as tiny flies circling the head of a bull.

These thoughts and sensations are nothing. They’re nothing more than little warnings from your Ego telling you that you’re at risk of ruining that perfect false image you have of yourself.

This applies to any discomfort, including the threat you might perceive in other people.

They are there, but you are the bull, paying them no heed. You view those flies as friends; things to be laughed at, and they no longer threaten you. You carry on doing your thing, munching grass, despite the incessant buzzing…

…Which grows quieter.

You’re a bull, and you don’t give a shit about little flies.

source: medium.com

After a while, you’re so focused on what’s happening right in front of you (that juicy green grass; the bright red cape) that you forget those thoughts and feelings were there entirely.

Using the energy you previously reserved for fighting the darkness, instead blast it with light, through boldly creating, moving and doing positive things; defying what would have paralysed you before.

Now you are in the moment. Alive.

The brief setback is behind you.

The flies are circling, but you’re at ease.

You’re climbing again